Charles Davis Says You'd Rather Have Chuba and Tylan in Stillwater and Draft Highlights Lie Ahead
STILLWATER -- Over the years Charles Davis has become a good friend and been on my radio show repeatedly and also a good source of football information, especially now that he does NFL games for Fox Sports. He is also on hand as an analyst for the NFL Network at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. He normally has a bigger role at the NFL Draft, but this year was part of the analysis on NFL Total Access on the NFL Network and ESPN and the NFL Network combined forces on the draft broadcast.
I had Charles on the radio show on April 27, the Monday after the NFL Draft and I had him talk about a lot of things. We talked about the end of the Oklahoma State streak of having a player, usually multiple players drafted every year since 2008. He knew there was a reason for it. I asked him about the pressure on Justice Hill in Baltimore with the Ravens taking Ohio State's running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round.
However, I started with getting his observation on a draft that was vastly different in look and feel from any draft we've ever seen since television started looking at the draft as a viable product for the masses. No stage, no wild suits in pink, no hugs, no booing Jets fans, and no green room for a draft pick that had to wait to try and hide under the table.
"I don't know overall, anyone in the league that could be displeased with what happened. I think fans, overall, adjusted because I think this country adapts and adjusts very well," Davis said of the virtual draft that had Commissioner Roger Goodell in his basement, Kliff Kingsbury in his swanky desert bachelor's pad, and Bill Belichick's handsome husky in his chair.
"I think we may want to go back more to the way the draft was conducted before, but I think people understood what it took to pull that all together. It was the technical people, behind the scenes, and what they did to pull this together, they were on the front lines, and they deserve the applause."
Again, something else in the NFL Draft, no Oklahoma State Cowboys for the first time since 2008. Davis said having 10 starters back on defense and offensive standouts like the nation's leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard, one of the best wide receivers in Tylan Wallace, and even an offensive tackle in Teven Jenkins with analytics any pass blocker would love to have is a good deal for Mike Gundy and company. Gundy talks about the culture in his program. Davis said that is the key when draftable players come back.
To start with he likes the big stars the Cowboys have coming back.
"I don't think there is any question about it and to be able to get those guys back and not having those players go out early and being able to hone their craft (is a positive)," Davis said. "The beauty that I have seen lately Robert, you remember when we first got into this with players saying, 'do I stay or do I go.' If they were really top 10 kids, let's use (former South Carolina defensive end) Jadaveon Clowney as our case study. He would have been the first pick, but he decided to go back to school. What happened that year? There was a ton of discussion if he was playing to protect himself. Is he playing all out? He missed one ballgame and their was a controversy with (his head coach) Steve Spurrier as to whether he was going to play. That doesn't help a college football team. It doesn't help the harmony in your locker room. It doesn't help you on the field because the kid may not be going all out."
"You've got kids coming back (at Oklahoma State) and what I've seen in recent years in college football is they come back and play," Davis said and he acknowledged that Hubbard and Wallace have the reputation of being the hardest workers on the team. "It's not just to improve their draft stock, which it does, but they come back and play for the old university. To me I see that as a very positive pattern that way. I think that bodes very well for Cowboys fans."
Las Vegas likes it too. Two very early mock drafts, one from Sports Illustrated and the other from Fox Sports, don't have Hubbard, Wallace, or Jenkins going in their first round. But the Las Vegas books, which measure their success in dollars and not page views on the internet, has Hubbard as the third top running back in the draft. Hubbard is at +300, which means you bet $100 then you collect $300. Tylan Wallace is tied for fourth among receivers at +700, which means a successful $100 bet collects $700.
I also asked Davis what he thought about the Baltimore Ravens second round selection of Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins. The 5-9, 209-pound Dobbins rushed for 2,003-yards and 21 touchdowns for the Buckeyes, was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award along with the Cowboys Chuba Hubbard. You don't pick a running back in the second round of the draft and expect him to do anything other than be a back-up immediately.
"It's an easy read for me because the Ravens are a heavy set team and with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards has backed him up quite well, but you get a chance to get a better player and bolster a position of power for you," Davis explained of the situation ahead of Hill. "So now with all things being equal and no injuries, the Ravens depth chart will read, Mark Ingram one, J.K. Dobbins two, and then they have to figure out what they are going to do with that third guy, special teams and all that comes into play. If they end up going four deep is it Gus Edwards or Justice Hill? Someone is going to lose out because it's a numbers game. This team ran for over 200-yards a game last season and they want to continue to do that and take some of the pressure off of (quarterback) Lamar Jackson."
So, the news may not be so good for Hill. He has his work cut out for him, but he had a solid rookie season that will keep him in the league. If not in Baltimore, then he will be somewhere.
Oklahoma State comes back with a powerful roster that is chock full of picks in next year's draft and likely first round, whether some of the early mock drafters have then in there or not.
Finally, some aspects of the COVID-19 virtual NFL Draft may stick around. NFL executives have said they like the idea of coaches, scouts, and personnel directors spending less time in the facility in the spring and more time working at home. Now that is something different for sure.